Certification Selection Dilemma: CCDE, DevNet or Cloud Certs

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One of my connections on LinkedIn sent me the below question, that consists of multiple sub-questions, which I found very logical, and I promised him to respond to these questions in a blog post, to share it with others, who may find it useful.

Before, we look into the question(s), first lets agree why we need a certification (what is the ultimate goal)?

The simple answer, that we need to agree on, is that the certification should never be the ultimate goal, instead, the knowledge and experience(s) gained through the study and learning  journey of the certification is the goal. In other words our goal is to learn or master something(s) and a certification(s) is the path to achieve that. From an employer or outsider point of view, Passing the certification exam(s) is a prove that you have gone through the study/learning journey and you have the required skills based on the certification type/content/goal etc. however, it does not mean you are the master or experienced, this is where your work experience, completed projects, etc. can be used to show this.

That’s why I personally (and I know many others as well, prefer to learn certain knowledge/skills by achieving a certification(s), because it is a great way to set a target and work on it, following a structured content with a known goal)

Now, as long as we are in agreement that the goal is not the certification itself, but the content, study and learning journey is the goal, then the answer to the below question(s) will be relatively easy.

The Question’s message:

“Hello Marwan. I hope all is well. I’m sure you get a lot of those mails regarding prep for CCDE. I’m aspiring CCDE and would like some guidance on the proper way to prepare.

I’m struggling between investing my time on CCDE or pursue other cloud cert. I understand at the end of the day learning and gaining knowledge is never a bad thing.

I like what CCDE offers in terms of career path but I just see the Denvnet cert advancement and I wonder what would be the best course.

I already bought your guide and other books to prepare and I’m looking to buy your lab guide.

I’m looking for some guidance on the following:

1- is CCDE still relevant in the DevNet era?

2- CCDE or Other cloud certs?

3- where should I start?


If we directly jumped into the question, the answer will be a bit difficult, because all of the aforementioned certifications, are valuable today and honestly, if someone tells you one of these certifications is better or more valuable than the other, this is not really a valid answer.

However, after we defined why we need a certification, the simple answer should start with the following question:

  • What is the ultimate goal?
    • To be design focused ? network design & architecture, cloud design or both?
    • To be DevOps/NetDevOps expert ? focusing on automating after design tasks (implementation and operations)
    • To be Data engineer focusing on data engineering and/or data analysis stuff?

If the goal is about design & architecture in general, the study and learning journey toward the CCDE, is one of the best if not the best, as it focuses on the design/architect mindset, requirements, etc. there are many blogs that were published addressing these aspects. From my personal experience, I found the CCDE can create a very strong foundation to any other design related certification, including the cloud architect certifications offered by cloud service providers like AWS ( from a design mindset perspective, from content perspective, CCDE is way more difficult and typically it addresses different technologies and skills set). So combining CCDE with a cloud architect certification like AWS architect associate level, can be good combination, unless the goal is to go deep into cloud solutions and you will be heavily involved in large scale cloud project, in my opinion the professional level is not required.

If the goal is, toward Post-sales activities, where its more about implementations and operations, the new DevNent certifications are really a game changer here, these certifications are the first of its kind in the industry, and I personally see this is where the next generation implementations and operations engineers should focus. Again, the depth here can vary depends on the goal, e.g. could be CCIE combined with some specializations’ Certs, from DevNet Certs, etc.

Also, DevNet Certs/Knowledge can be a good skill for R&D and Innovations, creating new things and ideas by taking advantage of open APIs and programmable infrastructures and SW solutions.

On the other hand, if the goal is to focus on something like BigData, Data engineering, Data analysis/analytics, then Hadoop, clouera, and/or cloud services providers’ certifications that focuses on Data and ML/AI, should be the way to go. This is a completely different path.

Last but not least, in my humble opinion, I see in the era of automation, SDx and cloud, design and architecture skills are more important than ever before. I discussed this topic with Andre Laurent, during a live Facebook interview hosted by Cisco Learning Network a while ago, you can view it using the link below:

Some CCDE References to start with:

Devnet Certs

Refer to the Cisco Learning Network official website where all what you need is there, and you can ask any question that you may not find an answer to it.

Categories :
Marwan Al-shawi – CCDE No. 20130066, Google Cloud Certified Architect, AWS Certified Solutions Architect, Cisco Press author (author of the Top Cisco Certifications’ Design Books “CCDE Study Guide and the upcoming CCDP Arch 4th Edition”). He is Experienced Technical Architect. Marwan has been in the networking industry for more than 12 years and has been involved in architecting, designing, and implementing various large-scale networks, some of which are global service provider-grade networks. Marwan holds a Master of Science degree in internetworking from the University of Technology, Sydney. Marwan enjoys helping and assessing others, Therefore, he was selected as a Cisco Designated VIP by the Cisco Support Community (CSC) (official Cisco Systems forums) in 2012, and by the Solutions and Architectures subcommunity in 2014. In addition, Marwan was selected as a member of the Cisco Champions program in 2015 and 2016.